Utah biologists with the help of a helicopter captured and relocated dozens of bighorn sheep in the beautiful red rock area, just outside Zion National Park.
(Dustin Schaible, UDWR Wildlife Biologist) What we are doing is trying to establish a native species to their historic range. Bighorn sheep were extirpated on settlement of the area, we’ve entered into an aggressive program to try and re-introduce them into these areas where we can have them.
(Dustin Schaible) We’ve been pretty aggressive in the last couple of years moving sheep around. We’ve got some pretty robust populations that are in need of populations management and our first tool is to do transplants. One to reduce the source herd, but then to also start new populations in other areas.
Once captured, the sheep are slung back to a staging area where biologists await to give them a thorough checkup.
(Dustin) We do a lot of pathogen testing, so we take a lot of blood samples, we do some nasal and throat swabs and they are tested for pathogens that cause pneumonia.
(Dustin Schaible) We are hoping to get anywhere from 40-60 sheep off of this unit and start a new population over on Nokia Dome, the San Juan River and also on the Beaver Dam Mountains on the Pine Valley.
The Sheep where then loaded up.
And transported to their new home in Southeastern and Southwestern Utah.
(Dustin) We are lucky enough to have the problem of having too many sheep on the zion unit. Which really does help everyone in that we have the opportunity to create new populations and we are actually in a really good position to move sheep into some of these areas that haven’t had sheep for hundreds of years.
For more information about bighorn sheep, the trans-location project or anything concerning Utah wildlife. Be sure to check out our Utah Field Guide on our Outdoors page at KSLTV.com.